Teen Counseling is a subscription-based online therapy platform for teens 13-19 years old across the US. During our independent review of their services, they earned an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. With Teen Counseling, teens can attend weekly video, phone, or live texting sessions, plus have access to messaging with their therapist between live sessions. Teen Counseling costs $240 – $360 monthly (advertised as $60 – $90 weekly), making it an affordable out-of-pocket therapy option for teens.
Rating of Teen Counseling’s Online Therapy
Over the past year, I have dedicated a considerable amount of time to researching, personally using, and reviewing online therapy platforms. Not only do I sign up for online therapy services and use their websites and apps, but I also attend live therapy sessions with each platform. I reach out to each online therapy platform before I begin researching and reviewing them to ask numerous questions about their products that users are likely to want answers to. All of this is done to ensure that consumers get the information they need to make intelligent purchases. For this review of Teen Counseling, I had my teenage daughter sign up with me so we could truly experience everything Teen Counseling had to offer teens and their families. During our independent review, Teen Counseling earned 3.5 out of 5 stars overall, performing best in the categories of geographic location, user experience, and therapist expertise. While Teen Counseling did underperform in the categories of cost, therapist, matching, and several others, my teen found the service very convenient and easy to use
Pros & Cons of Teen Counseling
Teen Counseling is available in all 50 states and offers a fast and convenient way for teens to connect with a licensed therapist in their state. Therapy sessions are only 30 minutes long, which is great for teens who may be new to therapy. However, parents/guardians must give consent before teens can sign up for an account.
What Is Teen Counseling?
Teen Counseling is a subscription-based online therapy platform for teens 13 – 19 years old operated by BetterHelp. Teen Counseling offers 30-minute live video, phone, or texting sessions with costs ranging from $240 – $360 monthly depending on location. A great perk for teens and their parents/guardians is the option to send messages to their therapist in between sessions and generally receive responses within 24-hours. Unfortunately, Teen Counseling does not accept insurance at this time.
Teens are able to connect with a licensed therapist in their state usually within 24 – 48 hours of signing up. Teens can create an account by going to the Teen Counseling website or through downloading the app. From there, they will answer questions about their symptoms and what their therapist preferences are. Ultimately, a parent/guardian will have to create an account, sign consent forms, and input payment before their teen can actually receive care. While it was easy to sign-up, it was confusing based on the website what the role of the parent would be and therefore Teen Counseling earned 3 out of 5 stars in the “Online Therapy for Kids & Teens Scoring Features” category of our online therapy scoring criteria.
If parents/guardians wish to sign their teen up for therapy, the sign-up process is very similar to the process for teens. However, the parent/guardian will need to add their teen to the account during the sign-up process or afterward. Teen Counseling will send an email link to your teen after you add them to the account, so it is important to make sure your teen has an active email address they access regularly. Teens will be automatically matched with a therapist initially, however, if at any point they feel the match isn’t working out, they can easily change therapists and select one for themselves.
Teens will usually attend the first live session with their parent/guardian present, so everyone can be on the same page about what to expect during the sessions. After the first session, the teen will have one-on-one sessions with just their therapist, which gives them the space to open up to the therapist. Whatever the teen says to their therapist will stay between them, with a few specific exceptions – if a teen expresses the wish to harm themselves or others or mentions any abuse or neglectful situations, the therapist will notify the correct people, including parents/guardians.
Much like its parent company, BetterHelp, Teen Counseling offers great extra features to help teens stay engaged in their therapy process. There is a journal space with a suggested prompt or an option to choose a prompt from a list, which is a great way to get teens to start a journaling habit. Having prompts for them to follow also gives them more direction about what to write, which can help them create a good journaling habit. These journals can be shared with their therapist or they can choose to keep them private – it is totally up to the teen. While this feature is really awesome, the other BetterHelp sites also offer group webinars, which means Teen Counseling has 3 out of 5 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category of our scoring criteria.
Who Is Teen Counseling Right For?
Teen Counseling would be a good fit for any teen wanting to try out online therapy for the first time or for those seeking a more convenient and affordable out-of-pocket therapy option.
Teens Wanting to Explore Counseling for the First Time
If you are a teen and you want to see if online therapy would be a good fit for you, Teen Counseling would be a good place to start. While there is only one subscription available, it offers a little bit of everything which can really kick-start your journey. The live video or phone sessions are only 30-minutes long, which may be less intimidating than an hour-long in-person session. You can also easily change therapists in the app if you do not feel a good connection with your therapist –something that can be more difficult to do if you are going to in-person therapy.
Seeking a Convenient & Affordable Out-of-Pocket Option
Teen Counseling has some of the lowest out-of-pocket costs when it comes to subscription-based online therapy options for teens. Depending on where you live, the monthly total for therapy for your teen could be as little as $240. Paired with the ease of access with the app and flexible scheduling with many therapists, it is also convenient for teens with busy schedules. Compared to Talkspace for Teens, which has out-of-pocket costs starting at $276 for messaging only and no live therapy sessions, Teen Counseling is a really great cash payment option.
Who Might Want an Alternative to Teen Counseling?
While Teen Counseling is a good starting point for many, those who need more support or want to use their insurance will want to find an alternative.
Teens That Need Longer Therapy Sessions
Teen Counseling only offers 30-minute live therapy sessions at this time. Teens that need longer, more intensive therapy sessions will need to find a different online therapy platform or seek out in-person care to if your teen is benefitting from therapy. A great online alternative to Teen Counseling would be Joon Care, which offers 50-minute therapy sessions.
To learn about costs and which states are covered, you can read our in-depth review of Joon Care.
Teens Who Need Psychiatric Services
Currently, Teen Counseling does not offer any psychiatric services and they cannot provide prescription medications. There are some online therapy services, like Brightline Mental Health, that can provide medication management to teens, but please be aware that there are certain mental health diagnoses best treated in person, like bipolar disorder in adolescents.
You can learn more about how Brightline provides medication management by reading our detailed Brightline Mental Health review.
People Wanting to Use Insurance
If you want to use your insurance or your out-of-network benefits, you will want to find an alternative to Teen Counseling. You will not be able to receive a superbill from Teen Counseling and you will not be able to use your HSA/FSA card to pay for therapy which earned Teen Counseling 1 star in the “Insurance & Out-of-Network Benefits” category on our scoring criteria. Talkspace for Teens will be able to provide all of this to you and you will also be able to select from three different subscriptions with Talkspace instead of the one offered by Teen Counseling.
To find out more about how their subscriptions work, you can read our in-depth Talkspace review.
Teen Counseling User Reviews
Overall, Teen Counseling has good ratings from both app stores. It currently has a 4.7-star rating from 3,100+ reviews in the Apple App Store and a 4.6-star rating from 1000+ reviews in the Google Play Store. During our independent review of Teen Counseling, we found their customer service to be mid-range and they earned 3 out of 5 stars in this category of our scoring criteria.
Needed More Specific Advice
A common theme in some of the more negative reviews was that the advice given to the teens was really generic or unhelpful. Parents and teens remarked that a therapist telling them to “eat healthily” or “go exercise” doesn’t really help them with their actual symptoms. My teen really enjoyed and appreciated the advice their therapist gave them and said they were really nice to talk to.
Troubles Connecting With Therapists
Teens and parents shared that they had a hard time connecting with the right therapist. Some mentioned that the automatic matching system placed them with therapists that had no availability and then it took a long time to be matched with someone new. Others mentioned that even when matched with a therapist that had availability, it sometimes took two weeks to get to their first appointment. I suspect that both of these cases may be true, as my teen was able to match with a therapist quickly, but could not get to a first appointment until a week after initially matching.
Parent/Guardian Accounts May Make Some Teens Uncomfortable
I noticed there were a couple of reviews written by teens about how they did not like the fact that parents/guardians had to give consent in order for them to begin therapy. A couple of teens mentioned wanting their therapy to be private from their parents and they were disappointed that Teen Counseling requires a guardian account. Unfortunately, many states require parent/guardian consent for teens to receive therapy, with a few very specific exceptions for in-person therapy.
Easy & Convenient Access to Licensed Professionals
Many of the parents/guardians that left reviews for Teen Counseling generally praise how easy and convenient it was for their teen to text with their therapist anytime they want. Most feel that this aspect alone made the out-of-pocket costs worth it for their budgets and that it helps their teens feel a connection to their therapists. My teen really enjoyed the live texting sessions with their therapist and ended up attending weekly sessions for several months.
How Much Does Teen Counseling Cost?
Teen Counseling costs start at $240 – $360 billed monthly (advertised as $60-$90 weekly) with the exact upfront costs depending on your location and therapist availability. Due to the fact the costs for therapy are not available prior to completing the sign-up process, Teen Counseling earned 1 star in the “Online Therapy Cost” category of our scoring criteria.
A Teen Counseling subscription includes:
- Weekly 30-minute live video, phone, or texting session for your teen
- Two personal chatrooms, one for the teen and one for the parent/guardian
- Unlimited texting with the therapist any time, with responses to be expected at least once daily
Get 20% Off Your First Month With Teen Counseling
Does Teen Counseling Take Insurance?
No, Teen Counseling does not accept insurance for therapy at this time.
Teen Counseling does not submit any claims on your behalf and will not provide a superbill as they cannot provide your teen with an official diagnosis. This earned Teen Counseling 1 star in the “Insurance & Out-of-Network Benefits” category of our scoring criteria.
Getting Started With Teen Counseling
There are two ways to sign up for an account with Teen Counseling, either the parent/guardian creates an account or the teen can create an account online or in the app.
To get started as a parent you will:
- Go to the Teen Counseling website and click “Get Started” and choose “I am the Parent.”
- Choose to add your teen to your account right away or to add them later.
- Answer the questions about your teen and the symptoms they are experiencing.
- Pay for your subscription and wait to be matched with a therapist.
- Once matched with a therapist, you will sign two consent forms and then be able to schedule your first live therapy session.
To get started as a teen you will:
- Go to the Teen Counseling website and click “Get Started” and choose “I am the Teen.”
- Answer some basic questions about yourself and what your symptoms are.
- Create an account for yourself and verify your email address.
- In order for you to complete the signup process, Teen Counseling will send an email to your parent/guardian with information about how to pay for your subscription.
- Once your subscription is paid for and your parent/guardian signs the consent form, you will be matched with a therapist and be able to schedule your first live therapy session.
Teen Counseling: Detailed Review
Teen Counseling offers teens one live, 30-minute weekly video, phone, or texting session with a licensed therapist. In between sessions, teens can text their therapist in personal chatrooms, with responses to be expected at least once daily. Teen Counseling costs start at $240 -$360 monthly with exact upfront costs depending on location and therapist availability.
What Is Therapy Like with Teen Counseling?
The Teen Counseling website has an option listed that says “I only need parental advice”, which gave me the impression that parents/guardians can receive therapy for parenting-related issues. After I completed the sign-up process, I had access to the same therapist as my teen and when I asked her if the live sessions were also meant for me, she said the live sessions are for teens only. This left me feeling unclear about exactly what role I would play in my teen’s therapy experience and exactly what Teen Counseling offered.
All therapy sessions happen through live video, phone, or texting sessions with the teen’s therapist. Usually, the first session will be with the parent/guardian, the teen, and the therapist, which allows everyone to get to know each other and ask any lingering questions. To access the live sessions take place in the “Session Room,” which is also the chatroom with the therapist. A really nice perk of Teen Counseling is my teen had a personal chatroom with their therapist and I felt it was invaluable for them to have their own space with their therapist. I also had access to my own chatroom with the therapist, and it is reassuring that the therapist could send me check-ins as needed.
Something that we couldn’t get to work properly was sending audio messages through the app. We were able to share a photo with their therapist without any issues, however, the therapist never sent anything in return.
My teen’s therapist had some technical problems and was not able to do the live video session and we started our phone session about five minutes late. While she did let me know about the problems right away, I was initially disappointed about the technical problems. Despite the initial disappointment, the first live session with my teen’s therapist went really well! I was able to spend the first ten minutes or so talking about how the platform works and what symptoms my teen was currently experiencing. Then my teen spent the last ten minutes chatting with the therapist and getting to know her.
My teen was pretty skeptical about doing online therapy, as they had only been to therapy in person before. But by the end of their first phone call with the therapist, they were smiling and said they really liked her. Immediately after their phone sessions, we were able to book her next weekly session and they chose to do a live texting session. When I asked them what they thought about Teen Counseling so far, they said, “It’s pretty cool, actually.” And I have to agree with them, not only did we save so much travel time, we actually were matched with a really great therapist.
My teen ended up using Teen Counseling for about six months in total. They attended weekly live texting sessions with their therapist and I saw great improvement in their anxiety symptoms. My teen never shared what they talked about in their live sessions and I was fine with this. I also never received updates from the therapist about my teens progress, but I assumed “no news is good news.”
Extra Features of Teen Counseling
A great extra feature of Teen Counseling is the journal space. The in-app journal has a suggested prompt or an option to choose a prompt from a list, which is a great way to get teens to start a journaling habit. Having prompts for them to follow also gives them more direction about what to write, which will help them create a good journaling habit. The teen can choose to share their journal with their therapist or keep it totally private.
On the parent side of the app, you also have access to the in-app journal. Even though the therapist and the live sessions are for your teen, having access to a journal as a parent is actually a pretty nice feature. Much like my teen, I like to journal but struggle with trying to find something to write about every day. Having the suggested prompts has really helped me reconnect to free writing again.
Teen Counseling Vs. Competitors
Teen Counseling is a part of the BetterHelp brand and offers online therapy to teens across the US. However, being aware of what competitors offer that Teen Counseling may not will help you make a smart purchase decision for your family.
Teen Counseling Vs. Talkspace for Teens
Teen Counseling (owned by BetterHelp) and Talkspace for Teens have some similarities and differences to be aware of. Both platforms are available nationwide and offer a dedicated chatroom for teens to communicate with their therapist and come with the option of live video, phone, or text messaging sessions. However, Talkspace has 45-minute live sessions and Teen Counseling only offers 30-minute live sessions.
Talkspace definitely has a higher out-of-pocket cost than Teen Counseling, with subscriptions starting at $246 – $516 monthly (advertised as $69 – $129 weekly), but they take many major insurance plans while Teen Counseling does not. With Teen Counseling, however, you as the parent/guardian will have access to the therapist your teen is seeing, something you will not have with Talkspace for Teens.
Teen Counseling Vs. Manatee Health
Teen Counseling and Manatee Health both offer 30 minute online therapy sessions for teens, but Manatee Health offers services to a wider age range of children, from 1 – 17-years of age. While Teen Counseling is a subscription-based service, Manatee offers therapy as a per-session offering at $125 per session. Both platforms offer great extra features in their apps, but Manatee offers more in regards to parent support than Teen Counseling.
Whereas Teen Counseling is available in all 50 US states, Manatee is only available in CA, CO, FL, ID, NJ, PA with plans to expand. Manatee Health accepts select insurance plans, which could make the out-of-pocket costs less than the out-of-pocket costs with Teen Counseling.
For more information about how exactly Manatee Health works, you can read our comprehensive review of Manatee.
How Teen Counseling Began
Teen Counseling is part of the BetterHelp family and was founded in 2015.(FN1) There is not a lot of press surrounding Teen Counseling as a stand-alone platform, with much of the press being focused on BetterHelp. Teen Counseling earned 4 out of 5 stars in the “Reliability & Longevity” category of our scoring criteria.
You can learn about Teen Counseling’s parent company by reading our detailed BetterHelp review.
Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Counseling
What Credentials do Teen Counseling Therapists Hold?
Teen Counseling requires all of its providers to be accredited, trained, and experienced licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, or professional counselors. They all must be certified in the state they live in, have at least three years of experience, 1,000 hours of hands-on experience, and have successfully completed all necessary exams and training. It is unclear whether the therapists providing care on Teen Counseling hold special training or degrees to work with teens or if they simply opt-in to the platform based on their interests. However, Teen Counseling did earn 5 stars in the “Therapist Credentials & Expertise” category of our scoring criteria because all of the providers are thoroughly vetted prior to them seeing clients.
How Is My Teen Matched With a Therapist?
After you or your teen sign up for an account, you will answer a brief questionnaire. There are questions about what symptoms your teen is experiencing (generally anxiety and depression assessment questions) and preferences in a therapist. After you pay, Teen Counseling will tell you that it takes between 24 – 48 hours to be matched with a therapist, sometimes sooner.
Can My Teen Choose a New Therapist?
Yes, you can easily change therapists, either in the app or on the website. When you click “more” on the bottom navigation bar, you will come to the settings screen. From here you can click “Change Therapist” and begin the process of changing to someone new. My teen was very pleased with their therapist match, so we did not go through the process of finding a new one at this time.
Which States Require Parental/Guardian Consent?
Each state and territory of the US have very different rulings about when parental/guardian consent is needed for the mental health care treatment of a minor. Generally speaking, teens under the age of 18 will need consent from the adult in their life, but there are a few exceptions to this rule of thumb. In many states, teens that have been emotionally, mentally, or sexually abused can seek in-person mental health treatment without the consent of their parent/guardian.
Can I Use My FSA/HSA to Pay for Teen Counseling?
Teen Counseling does not currently accept FSA or HSA cards to pay for therapy and will not create superbills. These are two reasons why Teen Counseling earned 1 star in the “Insurance & Out-of-Network Benefits” category of our scoring criteria. There is an option to apply for financial aid during the sign-up process.
How Do I Cancel My Teen’s Subscription?
It is very simple to cancel your teen’s account or your account in the app. Go to “more” and click on “My Account,” then scroll down to “Payment Settings.” You will see the option to “Change Membership/Quit Therapy,” simply click on this and select “Quit Therapy.”
Does Teen Counseling Offer Refunds?
Teen Counseling will offer refunds on a case-by-case basis and you can contact them at [email protected] for more information.
Is Teen Counseling HIPAA Compliant?
Yes, Teen Counseling has policies that are consistent with HIPAA standards, however, the company does not state that it is compliant with HIPAA regulations. Prior to any sessions (messaging or live sessions), you will be required to sign a form agreeing to their privacy policies. Teen Counseling earned 4 out of 5 stars in the “Privacy & HIPAA” category of our scoring criteria.
Final Verdict on Teen Counseling
With Teen Counseling’s live sessions only being 30-minutes long, it seems like teens with mild mental health symptoms are the ideal target for this service. It is pretty frustrating that the prices listed on the website show a weekly cost when you are in fact charged a monthly cost. The website also is unable to tell you exactly what your upfront, out-of-pocket costs are until you complete the sign-up process. Despite this, and its 3.5 overall star rating, Teen Counseling still offers a great subscription-based option for teens, and overall it is a good start pointing for parents/guardians and teens interested in what online therapy could do for them.
Summary Table of What Teen Counseling Offers
|Cost of Online Therapy||$240 - $360 per month (dependent on location & therapist availability)|
|Frequency of Appointments||Weekly|
|Message Therapist Between Appointments||Yes|
|Provider Choices||Initially Matched|
|Can You Change Therapists?||Yes, self-select|
|Speed to First Appointment||1-2 Days|
|Geographic Coverage||All 50 States & International|
|Online Psychiatry Offered||No|